Jean-Luc Godard

My Approach in Four Movements


As I have said, the story of Juliette in “Deux ou trois choses que je sais d’elle” will not be told continuously, because not only she, but the events of which she is part, are to be described. It is a matter of describing ‘a complex’.

This ‘complex’ and its parts (Juliette being the one I have chosen to examine in greater detail, in order to suggest that the other parts also exist in depth) must describe and talk about as both objects and subjects. What I mean is that I cannot avoid the fact that all things exist both from the inside and the outside. This can be demonstrated by filming a house from the outside, then from the inside, as though we were entering inside a cube, an object. The same goes for a human being, whose face is generally seen from the outside.

But how does this person himself see what surrounds him? I mean, how does he physically experience his relationship with other people and with the world? (Malraux said : ‘One hears the voice of others with the ears, and one’s own voice with the throat.’) This is something I would like to make people feel throughout the film, and have inherent in it.

If one now analyses this project for a film, one sees that my approach can be divided into four principal movements.

I. Objective Description

(or at least attempt at description, Ponge would say)

(a) objective description of objects: houses, cars, cigarettes, apartments, shops, beds, sets, books, clothes, etc.

(b) objective description of subjects: the characters, Juliette, the American, Robert, the hairdresser, Marianne, the travellers, the motorists, the social workers, the old man, the children, the passers-by, etc.

II. Subjective Description

(or at least attempt)

(a) subjective description of subjects: particularly by way of feelings, that is through scenes more or less written and acted.

(b) subjective description of objects : settings seen from the inside, where the world is outside, behind the windows, or on the other side of the walls.

III. Search for Structures

(or at least attempt)

In other words, 1+2=3. In other words, the sum of the objective description and the subjective description should lead to the discovery of certain more general forms; should enable one to pick out, not a generalised overall truth, but a certain ‘complex feeling’, something which corresponds emotionally to the laws one must discover and apply in order to live in society. (The problem is precisely that what we discover is not a harmonious society, but a society too inclined towards and to consumer values.)
This third movement corresponds to the inner movement of the film, which is the attempt to describe a complex (people and things), since no distinction is made between them and, in order to simplify, people are spoken of as things, and things as people; and I do not neglect conscience, since this is manifest in the cinematographic movement which directs me to these people or these things.
(Sternberg and his fish would say: I think, therefore the cinema exists.)

IV. Life

In other words, 1+2+3=4. In other words, having been able to define certain complex phenomena while continuing to describe particular events and emotions, this will eventually bring us closer to life than at the outset. Maybe, if the film comes off (I hope it will; if not all the time, at least in certain images and certain sounds), maybe then will be revealed what Merleau-Ponty calls the ‘singular existence’ of a person - Juliette’s in particular.
Next, all the movements must mix up together.
Finally, I must be able sometimes, not always but sometimes, to give the feeling of being very close to people.
Actually, when I come to think about it, a film like this is a little as if I want to write a sociological essay in the form of a novel, and in order to do so had only musical notes at my disposition.
Is this cinema? Am I right to go on trying?

Posted: March 2018
Category: Essays